Artist Statement
       
     
Gamma Capricorn at the Castle Door, 2016
       
     
God Wears Africa, 2016
       
     
Of shadow and meaning, 2016
       
     
presidential, 2016
       
     
I am what you see, and what you cannot. african / american, 2016
       
     
Summertime, 2016
       
     
Being Black Outweighs One's Blues, 2016
       
     
a maker of chords and scales, 2016
       
     
Cake-Walking In Flour Shadows, 2016
       
     
Warrior Covered in Celestial Bodies, 2016
       
     
Bluejay, 2016
       
     
The Marching Blues, 2016
       
     
deconstructing the monolith, 2016
       
     
Black Hole Quasar in Capricorn, 2016
       
     
Off Kilter, 2016
       
     
bird flyin' high, 2016
       
     
Kijito, 2016
       
     
Perception, 2016
       
     
complexities of man, 2016
       
     
Supermaasi, 2016
       
     
It Could Be You Next, 2016
       
     
Look See, See... (no.1), 2016
       
     
The Hope for a Wish, 2016
       
     
Red Scarab, 2016
       
     
Backward N, 2016
       
     
Look See, See... (no.2), 2016
       
     
fanm wouj, 2016
       
     
The Pleasures of Masculinity, 2016
       
     
Saintpaulia's Wish, 2016
       
     
Captivi, 2016
       
     
The Future is Female, 2015
       
     
African Ingenuity, 2016
       
     
The Judgement Day, 2016
       
     
African Grace, 2016
       
     
IMG_3870.jpg
       
     
Decarava's Paradigm, 2016
       
     
KOOL, 2016
       
     
Black Triangles, 2016
       
     
Orae in the Parallax, 2015
       
     
Ak Do Vire, 2016
       
     
Beta Cancri at the Castle Door, 2016
       
     
Aglaia of the Three Graces, 2016
       
     
Searching for Langston's Harlem, 2016
       
     
Into the Antebellum, 2016
       
     
'Church of Broken Pieces' by Jared Quinton
       
     
Artist Statement
       
     
Artist Statement

An introduction to a new mythology: Black Reality.

Astral, supernatural, mythic polymaths glistening in beautiful black magic — this family of strangers are a new zodiac within a mythology, one that takes place not in a distant future or past, but today.

This is an homage to an ever-changing, ever-moving Diaspora, a dynamic people who remain unfettered and unburdened, moving with full spirits, celebratory of themselves even in the face of uncertain mortality. There are no broken pieces here, everything is whole, black, and unique, separated from the invisible, separated from the incorrect construct of the ‘black monolith’ of identity.

Their metaphorical church is bound by blackness; a skin stretched across an ever-expanding drum-shell of time. What is holy to these ethereal yet everyday folks are their self-published mantras, memes, platitudes, status updates and micro-memoirs articulated in the blackest of letters forming the blackest of words. These are ancestors of the future.

They are the fruit of comets, born of stars and quasars and raw impossibility, like uprooted, majestic, migratory trees. These self-referencing, self-made saints, they are not reflections of us, they are us, if we choose to believe.

Gamma Capricorn at the Castle Door, 2016
       
     
Gamma Capricorn at the Castle Door, 2016
God Wears Africa, 2016
       
     
God Wears Africa, 2016
Of shadow and meaning, 2016
       
     
Of shadow and meaning, 2016
presidential, 2016
       
     
presidential, 2016
I am what you see, and what you cannot. african / american, 2016
       
     
I am what you see, and what you cannot. african / american, 2016
Summertime, 2016
       
     
Summertime, 2016
Being Black Outweighs One's Blues, 2016
       
     
Being Black Outweighs One's Blues, 2016
a maker of chords and scales, 2016
       
     
a maker of chords and scales, 2016
Cake-Walking In Flour Shadows, 2016
       
     
Cake-Walking In Flour Shadows, 2016
Warrior Covered in Celestial Bodies, 2016
       
     
Warrior Covered in Celestial Bodies, 2016
Bluejay, 2016
       
     
Bluejay, 2016
The Marching Blues, 2016
       
     
The Marching Blues, 2016
deconstructing the monolith, 2016
       
     
deconstructing the monolith, 2016
Black Hole Quasar in Capricorn, 2016
       
     
Black Hole Quasar in Capricorn, 2016
Off Kilter, 2016
       
     
Off Kilter, 2016
bird flyin' high, 2016
       
     
bird flyin' high, 2016
Kijito, 2016
       
     
Kijito, 2016
Perception, 2016
       
     
Perception, 2016
complexities of man, 2016
       
     
complexities of man, 2016
Supermaasi, 2016
       
     
Supermaasi, 2016
It Could Be You Next, 2016
       
     
It Could Be You Next, 2016
Look See, See... (no.1), 2016
       
     
Look See, See... (no.1), 2016
The Hope for a Wish, 2016
       
     
The Hope for a Wish, 2016
Red Scarab, 2016
       
     
Red Scarab, 2016
Backward N, 2016
       
     
Backward N, 2016
Look See, See... (no.2), 2016
       
     
Look See, See... (no.2), 2016
fanm wouj, 2016
       
     
fanm wouj, 2016
The Pleasures of Masculinity, 2016
       
     
The Pleasures of Masculinity, 2016
Saintpaulia's Wish, 2016
       
     
Saintpaulia's Wish, 2016
Captivi, 2016
       
     
Captivi, 2016
The Future is Female, 2015
       
     
The Future is Female, 2015
African Ingenuity, 2016
       
     
African Ingenuity, 2016
The Judgement Day, 2016
       
     
The Judgement Day, 2016
African Grace, 2016
       
     
African Grace, 2016
IMG_3870.jpg
       
     
Decarava's Paradigm, 2016
       
     
Decarava's Paradigm, 2016
KOOL, 2016
       
     
KOOL, 2016
Black Triangles, 2016
       
     
Black Triangles, 2016
Orae in the Parallax, 2015
       
     
Orae in the Parallax, 2015
Ak Do Vire, 2016
       
     
Ak Do Vire, 2016
Beta Cancri at the Castle Door, 2016
       
     
Beta Cancri at the Castle Door, 2016
Aglaia of the Three Graces, 2016
       
     
Aglaia of the Three Graces, 2016
Searching for Langston's Harlem, 2016
       
     
Searching for Langston's Harlem, 2016
Into the Antebellum, 2016
       
     
Into the Antebellum, 2016
'Church of Broken Pieces' by Jared Quinton
       
     
'Church of Broken Pieces' by Jared Quinton

Essayist Teju Cole once marveled at the tonal range in the shadows of an image by Roy DeCarava, musing that these darker areas might have been solid, inscrutable black in the hands of another artist. Given the long history of photographic technologies’ inability to register black skin, the artist’s embrace of subtle, modulated darkness was profoundly radical, especially in an age when mainstream representations of African American life were demanded with bombast or stereotype, if they were demanded at all. With DeCarava, Cole writes, “What is dark is neither blank nor empty. It is in fact full of wise light which, with patient seeing, can open out into glories.”

It is no surprise that Philadelphia-based photographer Shawn Theodore cites the iconic Harlem artist among his greatest inspirations. Shooting entirely in the streets, Theodore relishes the many ways that natural light can caress the skin of his Afro-Diasporic subjects, from a flattening glare, to dapples and highlights that dance across the face, to dramatic shadows that all but obfuscate the body. As in the restrained masterworks of DeCarava, however, even the darkest blacks of Theodore’s images give way to nuanced tonalities upon sustained contemplation—for instance, the men and women who turn away from the camera and into the shadows, granting the viewer only the silhouette of their three-quarter profile.

In Church of Broken Pieces, his first ever solo museum exhibition, Theodore presents a new body of photographs made on the streets of Philadelphia’s African American neighborhoods, many of them shrinking thanks to encroaching gentrification. A self-identified street shooter, Theodore has always found his subjects in chance urban encounters; some of these interactions between strangers have evolved into sustained collaborations, the fruits of which are presented here. This constellation of relationships and the community it sustains, however fleeting, are at the core of Theodore’s work.

Complementary to the intimacy and quiet darkness of many of these photographs, a strand of performative exuberance shines through. Our eyes can’t help but linger on the elegantly understated, trans-diasporic fashions in Theodore’s images, often commanding as much attention as the people themselves. Evoking the saturated palette and dynamic surrealism of the great Viviane Sassen, these photographs capture clothing and bodies in motion without sacrificing an ounce of their exquisite composed-ness. The self-possessed subjects enact the language of fashion spreads, history paintings, street performances, and mystical rites, often simultaneously.

Drawn from the name of a church close to the artist’s childhood home, the title’s self-conscious invocation of biblical grandeur calls to mind the great titles of the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro Movement. Theodore’s photographs conjure a transhistorical, transnational community mobilizing against erasure. They show us beauty as history, memory, resistance, and a way forward, shining the same wise light of the artist’s forebears and, little by little, opening out into new glories.